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  #1  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:17 PM
Nate Stanley's Avatar
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Renters did it again!!

I received news from our property manager that our rental in southern California was trashed after 40 days of non payment of rent. Tenants dropped the keys off and skipped town.

Terms of the lease: no pets inside.
Occupants were supposed to be 2 adults and 2 kids.

3 years ago we installed new carpet, one vanity and new kitchen counters & vinyl flooring.

Damages:
• Doors ripped off 2 vanities
• Carpet completely urine soaked in all rooms.
• Curtains removed and replaced with cheaper ones, those are now damaged.
• Vertical blinds missing from patio door.
• New electric stove in March 2010 had never been cleaned, even though it was a self-cleaning model .
• Water damage to walls in laundry room, possibly a ruptured washing machine hose. There was a spike in water use a few months back. Tenants attempted to fix themselves, botched the job. They did not notify prop managers, probably because there were 4 more adults living there than was documented when they first moved in. (thanks 411.com!)
• Heater thermostat smashed.
• Outdoor brick fire pit partially destroyed / dismantled and missing a grate.
• Hole kicked / cut in bedroom door (original wood veneer from build date in 1964)
• Sprinkler system disabled / damaged.
• Lawn not mowed in several weeks. Weeds everywhere.


New inside repaint will be required, no problem there as it was last done in 2002.
We have photo documentation of the original condition of the place in 2009, no problem proving damages.

Carpets are toast, slab needs to be cleaned and sealed before new flooring is installed. Total costs may exceed 7 grand.

Prop manager will work up an estimate and once work has been done, use a collection agency to garnish wages, etc. They have already found the new PO box number of the deadbeats.

My questions are:

• Do you have any suggestions as to other legal means to recover damages, and
• What can be done to pre-screen applicants?
• If we make mandatory quarterly inspections with 24hr written notice) as part of the lease, is this legal, and has this worked for you? Any downsides?
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  #2  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:35 PM
elchivito's Avatar
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I've always taken care of the rentals I've had over the years, and haven't had to recover any significant damages. I have kept a few security deposits so I can't speak directly to your problem.
One big question that comes to mind however is, what was your property "manager" doing to earn his keep while these lowlives were busy trashing the place? It didn't happen overnight.
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  #3  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:39 PM
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Can you make a periodic property inspection of the interior of the property by the property manager a condition of the lease?
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  #4  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:40 PM
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I totally agree with that. It's one of the questions I'm going to put to them when we go down there next week..
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  #5  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:50 PM
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Your property manager is not really managing anything.
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2011, 12:51 PM
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I would have a long talk with the property manager and maybe give him one more chance to do his job.
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2011, 01:00 PM
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1) A rental in SoCal while you live in NoCal would never work out on Residental Properties.
2) Property Manager is there to collect the commission only. They are not there for you when there is trouble.
3) Property Manager would stitch you up with BIG repair bills with their buddies.
4) Even the most responsible PM can only do so much, they cannot enforce anything. A house can be trash in 1 day. A qtrly inspection would work in name only, not in practice.

If you amortize 7 grand for 3 years rental, assuming it was trouble free for 3 years then it is not too bad. You need to expect 2-3K/yr for repair anyway for a single family house.
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  #8  
Old 07-18-2011, 01:10 PM
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95% of property managers are on the take, looking to do as little as possible while shafting the owner for as much as possible. Of the remainder 4% are just incompetent clods, with 1% being good and honest.

Moral of the story: manage the damn thing yourself. If you can't spare the time/effort/money to truck on down there and find tenants on your own when your tenants leave, you may as well sell the property. Talk to your friends in SoCal, have them recommend contractors (plumbers, HVAC, electric, handymen, etc) and form relationships with the contractors, so you can send people to do work as appropriate yourself, without relying on a managing dirtbag and his friends who kick money back to him.

Or at least agree on a flat fee with the management company (not a % of rent!) and find the tenants yourself. My family owns two rental properties, I sometimes rent my apt when I travel, and we've had good luck sticking to those rules. Never had anyone deliberately damage a property -- tenants haven't always been the cleanest, but they pay on time and aren't malicious.

Lastly, interview the tenants, check their references, look them up on the Web (FB, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google). Credit rating and even job (I've rented to people who were looking for a job) are less important than what kind of people they are. If you have a Facebook or other social network, post the property there. Friends of friends who are looking are always good, since someone who you know can vouch for them.

With all this being said, I'm very tempted to pick up some rental property in either SoCal or Zonieland in the next few months. Yeah, managing it long distance won't be fun, but prices are pretty right these days.

Last edited by spdrun; 07-18-2011 at 01:36 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-18-2011, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leathermang View Post
Security Deposit !!!!
Plus criminal charges when this extreme....
Not worth it -- take them to civil court first. Yobbos who are in jail aren't exactly in the position to pay up. Goal is to extract money, not revenge yourself.

Especially if they're "extreme Southerners." In which case, La Migra may take priority, they'll be transported back down south, and you'll never see a dime. Catch and release.
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  #11  
Old 07-18-2011, 01:42 PM
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Get on MrLandlord.com and start learning. 40 days is too long. Eviction should have been filed as soon as they were overdue unless they are long term trusted tenants. I do all that stuff myself, it's far quicker. No carpets in rentals. Wood or laminate or VCT only. Cheap HD miniblinds. About $4 each and can be replaced in minutes. No tenant ever cleans a stove based on 19 yrs of experience. Go thru with the eviction process and get a damage judgment against the tenant. Good property managers are very hard to find. Always better to do it yourself.
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  #12  
Old 07-18-2011, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry View Post
No carpets in rentals.
Ugh. No built-in carpets in any property I own, rental or not -- area rugs are great, over parquet or wood. Just what anyone needs: a surface that absorbs dirt and dust (I have mite allergies), leaks toxic chemicals (formaldehyde), can't easily be removed for cleaning, and is hard to clean in situ. D/k why anyone would voluntarily have built-in carpets.

Note that it's basically unheard of in Europe, which generally has better construction quality than the ticky-tacky USA.

PS - make sure it's actually urine, not residue from a meth lab that smells like urine. (Comforting thought I know.)
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  #13  
Old 07-18-2011, 02:46 PM
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I'd go straight to legal action, no reason to deal with those idiots any more. As someone who has been renting for about 6 years now, I can't imagine that level of destruction. The closest we got was renting out a party house for 2 years (college sure was fun!) where the downstairs was literally turned into a bar and pong room, no real kitchen or anything...basically a hush-hush agreement with the landlord that we'd keep giving him tenants if he turned a blind eye toward the obvious code violations. It worked out well. Thankfully I've moved up and out from there and actually have a nice place now that I would never even think of even getting so much as a stain on the carpet (though they replace them after every tenant, no lie).
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  #14  
Old 07-18-2011, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spdrun View Post

PS - make sure it's actually urine, not residue from a meth lab that smells like urine. (Comforting thought I know.)
Yikes. That is a possibility. I just finished reading Methland.
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  #15  
Old 07-18-2011, 04:38 PM
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interesting responses here.

Great advice on hard-surface flooring. We're considering that too. Make them bring their own rugs in.

There was a 1 month rent security deposit, which they will obviously lose 100%, but they probably consider it a wash if they can spend a month without leaving the rent.

The big mistake on the PM's part was to play nice guy when the economy tanked. I'd rather have an empty house than one occupied by slobs who would take advantage of the owners.

@ Spdrun, I never thought about the meth possibility. thanks for bringing that up.

The only saving grace is we have a friend down there who is trusted and talented with property maintenance.
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